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Suffolk County reviews how Hochul’s new gun laws apply to its pistol permit process

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Kevin P. Coughlin
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Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
Governor Kathy Hochul talked about strengthening gun laws following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to strike down the state's century-old pistol permitting process.

Police and sheriff departments that handle pistol permits on Long Island are still reviewing how the state’s new gun laws that went into effect last week apply to their licensing process. Legal experts expect the rollout of the new rules will be slow.

Governor Kathy Hochul proposed the Concealed Carry Improvement Act in response to New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen — a U.S. Supreme Court case in June that changed state law. The law now requires there to be a documented reason for owning a concealed firearm, instead of recognizing the Second Amendment.

"In response to the Supreme Court's decision to strike down New York's century-old concealed carry law, we took swift and thoughtful action to keep New Yorkers safe," Hochul said in a statement. "I refuse to surrender my right as Governor to protect New Yorkers from gun violence or any other form of harm.”

The state launched a new gun safety website to provide information to gun owners and dealers.

However, while the Concealed Carry Improvement Act applies statewide, there will likely be differences with how it’s carried out in New York City versus its suburbs.

“New York City has always had a more stringent set of regulations covering firearms ownership in general than the rest of the state has,” said Warren Eller, the chair of the Department of Public Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

In Long Island — both Suffolk and Nassau County — gun owners must register their firearms with either the county police departments or sheriff’s offices in eastern Long Island. A spokesperson for the Suffolk County Police Department referred WSHU to the governor’s office for clarity on how pistol permitting will change due to the new laws.

Under the law, new gun owners in New York will be required to take a 16 hour class and a two hour live fire firearm safety training course with an authorized firearm trainer. Once they pass a written proficiency test, they will need to take part in screening every three years to renew their permit.

The screening process requires the gun owner has enough knowledge to safely store and carry their firearms, and has completed training in conflict de-escalation, suicide prevention and use of deadly force.

It’s unclear how Long Island jurisdictions will alter its current process to comply with state law.

Right now, handguns and semi-automatic rifles require a permit, according to state law. Permits are issued by county or state Supreme Court judges outside of New York City, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk County, with a background check.

The state’s standardization of background checks required for concealed carry permits includes:

  • Four character references
  • A list of former and current social media accounts for the last three years
  • Disclosure of applicant's spouse or domestic partner
  • Any other adults residing in the applicant's home, including any adult children of the applicant
  • An in-person interview with their licensing officer or designee

Eller, the criminal justice expert, said the monitoring of social media accounts of prospective gun owners is controversial and will be challenging to enforce.

“Having staff scan the social media accounts of everyone who might apply is going to be a pretty heavy lift,” Eller said. “I think there are going to be some challenges to that in the not- too-distant future,” he continued.

Due to ongoing confusion, Eller said it’s probable that this provision will return to the courts.

Lauren is a news intern at WSHU for the fall of 2022.